ReLEx (Refractive Lenticule Extraction) – also called SMILE (Small Incision Lenticule Extraction) – is the 3rd and latest generation of laser eye surgery.
Laser eye surgery is already very safe. The SMILE laser eye surgery procedure offers some patients an alternative that has some advantages over conventional methods. With SMILE, we use a femtosecond laser to create two layers of bubbles in the cornea. Through a small keyhole incision, we remove the layer created by the bubbles so we can apply the treatment. This means we avoid the conventional LASIK flap. This reduces the time for healing process in comparison to LASIK.
SMILE is redefining refractive surgery as we know it. Small incision lenticule extraction, or SMILE, combines the advantages of LASEK and LASIK.
With this minimally invasive, flapless procedure, a lenticule (a tissue disc) is created inside the intact cornea and extracted through a small incision in the intact cornea. The focus is on the removal of the lenticule instead of the ablation of the tissue. Because there is no flap, there are no flap-related complications. It thus enables more biomechanical preservation and stability along with less incidence of dry eye.
With only minimal disruption to the corneal biomechanics, the lenticule is removed through the incision. The shape of the cornea is changed by removing the lenticule, thereby achieving the desired refractive correction.
Advantages of the SMILE procedure
SMILE offers much more comfort to patients, who are suitable for this procedure. With respect to LASIK, one of the flap-related complications is the flap moving, shifting, dislocating or folding. The SMILE procedure eliminates these risks.
Also, the chances of developing dry eye after the surgery are less than in the conventional LASIK.
The mechanical stability of the cornea is – in the long-term view – improved, because the strength is not interrupted as no flap is necessary.